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Changes in the relationship between self-reference and emotional valence as a function of dysphoria

Watson, L.A. and Dritschel, B. and Jentzsch, I. and Obonsawin, M. (2008) Changes in the relationship between self-reference and emotional valence as a function of dysphoria. British Journal of Psychology, 99 (1). pp. 143-152. ISSN 0007-1269

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The self-positivity bias is found to be an aspect of normal cognitive function. Changes in this bias are usually associated with changes in emotional states, such as dysphoria or depression. The aim of the present study was to clarify the role of emotional valence within self-referential processing. By asking non-dysphoric and dysphoric individuals to rate separately the emotional and self-referential content of a set of 240 words, it was possible to identify the differences in the relationship between self-reference and emotional valence, which are associated with dysphoria. The results support the existence of the self-positivity bias in non-dysphoric individuals. More interestingly, dysphoric individuals were able to accurately identify the emotional content of the word stimuli. They failed, however, to associate this emotional valence with self-reference. These findings are discussed in terms of attributional self-biases and their consequences for cognition.